On Monday, March 15, a new operatic event will showcase U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s favorite arias on what would have been her 88th birthday.
Presented by the National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH), Opera Philadelphia, and the Lowell Milken Center for Music of American Jewish Experience at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, For the Love of Opera: Celebrating RBG’s 88th Birthday will feature commentary as well as performances recorded this month in NMAJH’s Dell Theater and UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall.
A lifelong opera fan and advocate, Ginsburg often spoke publicly about her love for the art form. The plots of her favorite operas often paralleled her professional pursuit of justice. For the Love of Opera will feature arias from her favorite operas, including “Hai già vinta la causa” from Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro and “To this we’ve come” from Menotti’s The Consul.
The program features performances by Joshua Blue (tenor), Norman Garrett (baritone), Michelle Rice (soprano), and Ashley Marie Robillard (soprano), with instrumental accompaniment by Stephen Karr (piano) and Grant Loehnig (piano).
Remarks and reflections will be offered by Peter Kazaras, Director of Opera, UCLA; Lawrence Brownlee, operatic tenor and artistic advisor to Opera Philadelphia, who shared the stage with Justice Ginsburg in Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment at Washington National Opera (WNO) in 2016; and Francesca Zambello, the WNO’s stage director and artistic director.
In 2019, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a longtime member of NMAJH, became the 21st inductee into the Museum’s Only in America Gallery/Hall of Fame. She accepted the honor in person at the Museum during a ceremony that included a performance of Abscheulicher! … Komm Hoffnung, Leonore’s aria from Beethoven’s Fidelio, by WNO soprano, Alexandria Shiner, one of the Justice’s favorite young performers. NMAJH was the first East Coast venue for the special exhibition about the legendary Jewish Justice, called Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in late 2019, which was created and circulated by the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.
“In Jewish culture, when a person passes away, we say ‘May Their Memory Be a Blessing’,” said NMAJH CEO, Dr. Misha Galperin. “In that spirit, we look to celebrate Ruth Bader Ginsburg through her favorite art form in partnership with two exceptional organizations, Opera Philadelphia and the Lowell Milken Center.”
For the Love of Opera will also highlight operas that deal with legal issues, justice, and equality — such as Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Menotti’s The Consul — and those with strong, independent female characters like Despina in Mozart’s Cosî Fan Tutte.
“We are honored to partner with NMAJH and the Lowell Milken Center to share this tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg with opera lovers across the country, highlighting not just her favorite arias, but her commitment to justice and equality,” said Opera Philadelphia General Director & President David B. Devan.
“Justice Ginsberg was the embodiment of the biblical precept, ‘Justice, justice shall you pursue’ (Deut. 16:20). While her practice of justice likely stemmed from her identity as a Jew, her commitment to this principle was profoundly and universally applied. We also recognize her love of opera and music as an expression of her deep connection to all of humanity, as music is a universal language,” shared Mark Kligman, Director of the Lowell Milken Center for Music of American Jewish Experience at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. “Participating in this collaboration to celebrate her life and legacy ensures that her memory will always be for a blessing.”
“Una furtiva lagrima” from L’elisir d’amore by Donizetti
“O mio babbino caro” from Gianni Schicchi by Puccini
“Hai già vinta la causa” from Le nozze di Figaro by Mozart
“In uomini, in soldati” from Così fan tutte by Mozart
“Pst, pst, Nannetta….” from Falstaff by Verdi
“To this we’ve come” from The Consul by Menotti
“Make Them Hear You” from Ragtime by Flaherty
How to Watch
On Monday, March 15, at 5:00 p.m. PT / 8:00 p.m. ET, For The Love of Opera will air via Facebook Live on the NMAJH Facebook page, the Opera Philadelphia Facebook page, and the Lowell Milken Center for Music of American Jewish Experience and The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music Facebook pages, with a limited number of Zoom slots also available. This special production will be available on-demand after the event on the above Facebook pages, NMAJH’s website, and on the Opera Philadelphia Channel.
Visit https://www.nmajh.org/events/for-the-love-of-opera/ to learn more.